ELK GROVE, Calif. (KTXL) – A group of 50 high school football players from across the region is currently playing in a club league as an alternative to the still-questionable high school sports season.
“I’m just trying to provide hope and an opportunity for the kids to do exactly what they love,” said coach Derrick Stephens.
Stephens is the founder of the Iron Sharpens Iron Squad, the region’s only club football team for high school players.
Last week, they played their first game of the season in a league made up of teams from California and Arizona.
All games are held at one, private location in San Bernardino County some seven hours away.
“We get on a big charter bus, we go as one,” Stephens told FOX40.
Players each pay $125 per week to participate.
“The $125, it covers the lodging, the travel and any other things that may just sporadically come up,” Stephens explained.
Players also must have their own gear, something their respective high schools can not provide for them.
In fact, not all high school coaches are on board with the concept, even though no high school sports have been played since last March, and there is growing concern that there won’t be a season at all.
“Yeah, I had coaches, I was getting messages, phone calls. I got hate mail,” Stephens explained.
“I heard a lot of, ‘What happens if you get hurt? What happens if it doesn’t go as planned?’ A whole lot of nonsense, actually, to me,” said Laguna Creek High School senior David Wood.
Some players travel more than an hour twice a week just to practice. But especially now with the high school season up in the air, they are glad to be a part of something like this.
“It’s an opportunity to play football and it’s an opportunity to explore and also travel and explore. So, I actually like it,” said Jonah Coleman, a junior from Lincoln High School. “We’re not having high school football, so this is the only option to get film for colleges.”
“We keep it intense, we keep it high. You see everybody is out here competing every day just to get a starting spot every week,” said Luther Burbank High School junior Maliq Trice.
The season is scheduled to wrap by the end of the month, but discussions are already underway regarding the addition of more teams, as well as beginning a second season at the beginning of March.